September 12, 2006

ICBC to make auto thieves financially responsible for cost of theft claims

Vancouver, British Columbia – The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), the provincial government and police have announced ‘Project No Free Ride’, which will hold auto thieves and their passengers financially responsible for the cost of a theft claim.

The project is an initiative focused on recovering costs through civil litigation from auto thieves and deterring auto theft. Those involved in stealing vehicles will be held financially responsible for the entire cost of a theft claim, regardless of whether or not they are charged and convicted criminally of theft or possession of stolen property. ICBC is partnering with the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT) and other police to identify people in possession of stolen vehicles, and where appropriate, take civil action against them.

A civil judgment remains in effect for 20 years; ICBC has the statutory right under the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act to refuse to issue or to cancel both driver’s licenses and insurance while a judgment remains unpaid. ICBC expects that most people will want to drive and will have to pay back those court awards to do so. In 2005, there were almost 21,000 vehicles reported stolen to ICBC, at a cost to policyholders of $86 million.

As part of the project launch, ICBC is sending warning letters to known auto thieves, putting them on notice. In conjunction with the launch, ICBC has also commenced, or is in the process of commencing civil action against more than fifty convicted auto thieves, seeking damages in excess of $2 million.

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